Monthly Archives: June 2011

Salt of the Earth

Artist's concept of Aquarius

At 7:20 AM (west-coast time), NASA finally merged two objects of my affection: astronomy and sea salt. With the launch of the Aquarius satellite, NASA will study sea salt around the Earth.

I, of course, like to eat sea salt.

Now NASA is not, unfortunately, going to study the health benefits of sea salt outlined in Nourishing Traditions. Salt is mentioned in the subject index 21 times, but a good discussion of it’s health advantages starts around page 48. The unrefined variety of sea salt, such as Celtic type farmed in the salt marshes of Brittany, frequently contain traces of marine life that carry minerals in a bio-available form. It is the trace minerals that give sea salt one of it’s primary benefits, but the sodium chloride (largest component of sea salt by percent) is also important to the health of our brain, nervous system, and vital to digestion. Of note is the necessity of chlorine (the chloride part) to the making of hydrochloric acid, a favored tool of the stomach.

Alas, the science geeks (like me) are in fact searching for variations in the concentration of salt in the water of our oceans. Salinity traces the currents of water in the oceans, giving researchers a tool to understand how the water moves, or does not move, around the globe.

Even if NASA is not yet blasting rockets into space to investigate traditional cooking methods, at least they’ve taken one small step in that direction. So here’s to the salt of the Earth!

(Now go put some on your food)

*Image of salt taken from Celtic Sea Salt® brand website, as it is the source of salt I currently use. Artist concept of Aquarius spacecraft property of NASA, all rights reserved.


I’ve been chopped!

If you like food, and you like hearing what others have to say about food, you’ve probably grazed on the offering of the Food Network.

As two self proclaimed foodies, my wife and I enjoy following a couple of shows. One of our favorites is the extremely entertaining show Chopped.

In case you are not familiar with the show, here’s a quick overview:

Four chefs walk into a kitchen… oh wait, that’s a different joke. No, here:

4 chefs cook in a timed competition to make the best food. They have 20 minutes to make an appetizer, 30 minutes to make an entree, and 30 minutes to make a dessert. There is a basket of mystery ingredients, which usually has about 3-4 items each chef must use in the final dish. Plus there is a stocked kitchen so they can grab additional things like spices.

In my own fun version, I was hungry. I had about 20 minutes to eat before we needed to go someplace, and I had the following items in my “basket”:

Tortilla Chips,

Raisins,

And Sardines.

Since I considered this to be an appetizer round, I naturally decided to make a quick salsa of Raisins and Sardines, with a bed of crushed tortilla chips. Finding some fresh Cilantro in the fridge with some Mustard, I raced against the clock to bring the elements together– carefully dicing the cilantro, and arranging it all together to form a very tasty appetizer!

Now for the judges…

How did I do?

Food critic one: “I thought the presentation was quite nice, a small colorful bowl, and the cilantro and raisins really coordinate well.”

Food expert two: “I agree, but what I really like the flavor this dish brought out, the salty sardines, and the sweet raisins with the freshness of the herbs, a very good start to a meal.”

Grumpy food person: “But for someone with a background in slow food methods, can we really give him a pass with only 20 minutes of preparation?”

Food expert two: “Good point, I think that using Mustard out of a jar was just a cop out.”

Food critic one: “I disagree Two, I feel the use of fresh herbs like Cilantro is perfectly in line with slow food principles, and it’s not really possible to cook slow food fast.”

And whose dish is on the chopping block?

Judges?

Grumpy food person: “Well, we thought that your flavor combination and presentation were spot on, but that using a prepackaged Mustard instead of making your own was not adequate for you to move on in this competition, and so for those reasons, you’ve been chopped.”

Exit interview:

Me: “Though this is a crushing blow to my own ego, I must say that just being here and making this amazing salsa has been it’s own reward.”